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Employee Engagement: The Fight for Hearts and Minds

September 8, 2018

Running a business these days seems to have gone up a gear. From the perils of digital and the disruption it creates, the struggling high street and the rise of the most demanding customer we have ever seen.

There's so much to cover off.

Availability 24/7, transparency, personalized product, the creation of experiences, sustainability and that's just the start of it. It's not just attracting existing and new customers to buy your product or service. No. It's wooing your current and future employees. Bringing in new blood to the talent pool.

Look everywhere and you hear about regional businesses in particular straining to stay on the map. It's not that their services aren't needed. Here in Bristol, we are the technical hub of the country, but without a workforce that will keep the business moving into the future, there is no business. Owners are understanding that it's not even about now, it's about the next few years. How are they going to develop a pipeline of talent that will feed the business and enable it to meet the potential that it clearly has?

A frightening prospect not just for the business, the region but essentially the government. If people aren't willing to commit then how can the U.K remain in the race (beyond Brexit that is)?

After several years in business, it's true to say that the issues are broad reaching and difficult to crack. I've spent many hours talking, not only about product and brand, but about how a company can raise its CRM profile via transparency for instance cross-functionally. Supply chain, retail, manufacturing, innovation, people. Because the customer is interested in everything. They want to know that what they buy is worthwhile and has meaning. With so much choice and an increasing trend towards more conscious purchasing (value, long term) then every aspect of a business and brand is interrogated.

And that's just the purchasing side. When that customer hovers over the "buy" button or picks up a product from a shelf or in an ideal scenario stands in the middle of an experience that tells the story of the product and how it is made. Think fast fashion - the likes of H&M - even they are building a compelling and transparent story to counter-balance their past image in the climate of sustainability.

Amplify this by 10 x and you get to understand just how difficult it is to attract future employees to your business. It's costly, time consuming and, let's face it, doesn't sound like a priority. Especially for smaller business.

The way recruitment is going suggests that it is absolutely critical and new business models are springing up all the time. Think about those recruitment businesses which build a pipeline of talent for business. That educates prospects in the ways of that business. Inspires them. Builds a profile of that person ensuring that their priorities fit with the business.

It's complex. However it does need attention.

What's the answer?

Like most things, it requires taking a step back and looking at a business' vision. Small, incremental changes to woo may not be enough, especially if they are disconnected, fleeting or half-hearted. It's true that most businesses can't tackle everything all at once so it requires a strategy which talks about what the business actually stands for. What will make it unique. What it can talk about. One effective message and a key focus can often do more than a scatter-gun approach. Make that decision. Decide how it's going to come to life and most importantly decide how the business is going to talk about it.

Of course, brand is critical in this dialogue. It speaks to the rational and emotional. It inspires and attracts. But a brand is not free of criticism, nor of the need to prove its credentials as an attractive proposition for those people considering the next move in their career.

If you'd like to know how to start to create your business vision and turn that into a compelling plan. Get in touch.

Vision. Plan. Attract.